Mr Smith was doing something that he had wanted to do for a long time, spending a few days in Florence. The aim was to see a few sites, but also to experience, what he hoped, would be great Italian cooking. The first of the adventures was at La Bottega Del Buon Caffe…
After a day to acclimatise to the city and get the bearings, Mr Smith, with the help of the lovely people at Riva Lofts, had got himself a reservation at one of Florence’s Michelin starred restaurants, La Bottega Del Buon Caffe.
As part of the research before heading to Florence this was one of the places to try and get to. The staff at Riva Lofts had not been to it, but Mr Smith was sure it would be good.
The booking had been made and he headed off through Florence. Most normal people would have got a taxi, but not Mr Smith, he was off for a 40 minute walk to the restaurant, mainly alongside the River Arno which is a very pleasant walk.
Arriving a little early (he had walked quicker than expected) he was greeted with a warm welcome and shown to his table.
As with the rest of Florence there was no problem with the fact that Mr Smith could not speak Italian, despite trying to learn before the trip. The menu was presented and there was a choice between an 8 or 6 course tasting menu or the a la carte. For anyone that knows Mr Smith there will be no surprise in knowing that it was the 8 courses that were chosen.
However, before the 8 courses were started there was a lovely array of snacks that were brought out, parmesan bread sticks, a gorgeous wafer with a hint of wasabi, a mini sandwich, beetroot with gorgonzola and finally an Espuma with salmon eggs. All of which were delicious.
As per normal Mr Smith was having the paired wines with dinner, but the first drink, a lovely sparkling Italian wine was a perfect way to kick off.
So now on to the main events. Firstly, mention needs to be made of the bread. Possibly the best Focaccia Mr Smith has had. Yes, it had a salty top, but that is something that Mr Smith was starting to get used to in Italy. They do use a lot of seasoning, especially on the bread.
The first course was something that played with the mind. In recent restaurant visits there has been a lot of food that has done this and the Fois Gras Creme Brûlée was no exception. Yes, it was what it says and it was served with a Vin Santo ice cream. Sweet, but savoury to start and it was served with an amazing sweet wine. So much for the brain to cope with as it was not was expected, but a perfect way to kick things off.
Next up with a delicious selection of raw fish, which was followed by Taglierini Pasta with Red Mullet. At this point Mr Smith suddenly realised how pasta should be cooked, it was amazing. Al dente but perfectly so.
To top it off the next dish was Ravioli with Smoked Monkfish, again, cooked to perfection, or what Mr Smith now understands to be perfection.
The Amberjack with Celery was next up. Mr Smith is not a fan of celery, but this was good, the fish great and the fact it was paired with a Pinot Nero wine was heaven, and a surprise.
This was closely followed by the Broccoli with Camomile, Brussels and Creamed Leeks. A great vegetarian dish that allowed the Broccoli to shine and again it came with a great wine pairing of a Bio Dynamic Red from Sicily.
Now it was time for things more in the Dessert realm. Starting with a trio of Sorbets, the rosemary one was the stand out, and then the Pre dessert which really cleansed the pallet.
Finally came the Cheesecake. A very different, but delicious cheesecake which Mr Smith would like to have at home, a lot!
So that was it, well no, obviously not. 4 delicious little chocolates were served, which did not last long at all.
It had been a great night of eating and watching the chefs. Again, Mr Smith was in a lovely spot to watch the action. Just before leaving it was good to have a quick chat with the chef and to say thank you for such wonderful cooking.
So after that it was time for the reverse journey and a walk back to the hotel. This definitely allows time for the food to digest before collapsing on the bed and contemplating the run planned for first thing in the morning.
All in all a great place to eat and one Mr Smith would definitely go back to. The only criticism would be there could be an extra minute or 2 between courses. Nothing much, just a fraction slower pace would have been perfect for Mr Smith. That is nit picking though.
All the staff were great, they explained all the dishes in very good English, which is a big bonus for someone that really struggles with other languages.